The study aims to determine whether light microscopy can be used to accurately measure the diameters of intercellular spaces between squamous epithelial cells in the lower esophagus, and whether changes in this outcome measure can be used as a diagnostic marker for gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). The study has two parts. Part 1 involves 42 asymptomatic controls and 119 patients with typical symptoms of GERD, including 58 with erosive esophagitis (EE), and 61 patients with nonerosive gastroesophageal reflux disease (NERD). All biopsies were taken from the lower esophagus. All samples were observed using an immersion objective, after which diameters were measured by computer-assisted morphometry. Part 2 involves 61 individuals who were randomly selected from part 1, including 19 controls, 13 with NERD and 29 with EE. Diameter measurements using both light microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) were performed for samples of 61 individuals. Samples from a total of 61 individuals (31 male, 30 female, mean age 44.3 ± 16.0 years) were observed using both light microscopy and TEM. Both methods showed significant differences between control and disease groups; the outcomes from the two methods had a certain correlation (r = 0.605, P = 0.000). Morphometric analysis of all 161 individuals (83 males, 78 females, mean age 41.4 ± 15.7) showed mean diameters from light microscopy to be 0.58 ± 0.16 µm for controls, 1.07 ± 0.30 µm for NERD, and 1.29 ± 0.20 µm for EE; differences between control and disease groups were significant (P<0.05). The optimal cut-off value from receiver operator characteristic analysis was 0.85 µm. Diagnoses were validated using the combination of symptoms of GERD, endoscopy, and 24 h ambulatory pH monitoring as the gold standard. At the optimal cutoff, sensitivity was 93.3% and specificity was 100%. The diameters of the intercellular spaces in squamous epithelium of lower esophagus from controls and in patients with GERD can be quantitatively measured using light microscopy. Dilated diameters can serve as a sensitive, specific, and objective indicator for diagnosis of GERD.